“That’s a goal of mine every single year,” Bauer said. “I was there in 2018. I think I was probably the favorite when I broke my shin. It was a little bit frustrating because I didn’t get a chance to really finish that season and really compete for it.”
Bauer was 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA in 2018 in 27 starts with the Cleveland Indians. He finished sixth in Cy Young voting. Blake Snell, of the Tampa Bay Rays, won the award. He was 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA in 31 starts.
“It’s stuck with me,” Bauer said. “I’m thankful I’m in that position again, and hopefully I can complete my last three starts and actually compete for it.”
Bauer watches the scoreboard to see what the other pitchers in contention are doing. In addition to deGrom, he’s also competing with the Chicago Cubs' Yu Darvish (7-2, 1.77, 72 strikeouts), the Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola (5-3, 2.40, 77) and the Atlanta Braves' Max Fried (6-0, 1.98 ERA, 47 strikeouts).
Those are the five favorites, according to the most recent odds from SportsBetting.ag, which lists Darvish as the favorite and gives Bauer the fifth-best chance.
In his most recent start, Bauer pitched six scoreless innings and then gave up up a game-tying, lead-off home run to Colin Moran in the seventh inning.
“That pitch wasn’t a mistake,” Bauer said. “It was right where I wanted to throw it. Maybe I picked the wrong pitch in that situation. I don’t know. The wind was blowing out. As soon as it went out, the wind switched and started blowing in.”
Two of the next three batters singled against Bauer. Then Raisel Iglesias replaced him, ending the inning with two strikeouts.
The Reds (23-26) won the second game of the doubleheader 9-4, moving within one game of the San Francisco Giants in the race for the final National League playoff spot.
The expanded playoffs and shortened season have made the Reds a contender in September for the first time since they won a wild-card bid in 2013. The only player left from that 2013 team is first baseman Joey Votto.
“It feels so good to be playing meaningful games,” Votto said. “It feels so much better to feel you have a shot, to feel the games are meaningful, to feel like you’re playing in front of people who care. It feels great.”